Monday, August 29, 2016
Thursday, April 07, 2016
On Bernie and the jews - I am re-publishing (see below) a blog I wrote two years ago because I have recently become Facebook friends with a woman i knew in junior high school. she will not vote for bernie sanders because she's afraid he is not a friend to israel. i think she's wrong, in the same way my cousin sharon was wrong when she referred to me as an "israel hater." that is far from the truth and i'm sorry she feels that way.
hate begets hate and when i hear another sister jew say she doesn't care about arab mothers because their sons killed her love one, i am brokenhearted. the only antidote to hate is kindness, generosity and love, which doesn't mean you let someone beat you up or murder; it does mean you sit down with antagonists and mediate between them.
i thought i would not write on this subject again - i've been busy writing a biography - but this is my immediate history and i must embrace it, not run away from it, as maybe I have been doing.my girlhood classmate is passionate about Israel.i'm passionate about human beings and other creatures,my dog, for instance.
i'm passionate about bernie sanders because he has the courage to bring commitment and hope to young people the world over. i wish more of us older folks would listen to him.I'm convinced he can help solve huge problems,including those among all my people in the Middle East, the man gives me hope. he helps me get out of bed in the morning. he helps me dream of peace
SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 2014
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Saturday, April 04, 2015
*Laurie Kolp Poetry*: April Activities and 2 FREE Poetry Books for National Poetry Month (Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing!)
I'd love to read your work, Laurie!
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Book Review: Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer’s
For a better view, visit my P.I. Blog
Abe’s death, but she admits to no longer wearing the mourner’s
Thanks for stopping by,
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Writing Process Blog Tour: The Four Questions
1. What are you working on? I'm working on two books of poetry. The first, Driving Home from Mother's House, is about my mom, Anna Helfgott (1899-1996), who was for all of my life (little did I know it) the center of my life. Writing Mother onto the page helps me understand the strengths and weaknesses of our relationship and how that mother-daughter bond informed the relationships I had with my father, sister and brother, not to mention my own children and grandchildren and, of course, my two marriages.
I've been writing poems for this work since 1982 when I took classes from Heather McHugh and Nelson Bentley. I happened to have been in their classes because, while I was enrolled as a doctoral student in history, I needed to take a break. I thought poetry would be the best way to relax and have some fun. The poems encompass the various stages of my emotional and intellectual development, that is, from ages four years old or so, through elementary school years, high school, young adulthood and periods of aging and aging some more. Many of the poems have to do with my mother's political activism - her leftist and union activism in the 1930s and her involvement with the Seattle Gray Panthers in her later years. She was in practically every demonstration in Seattle until she was 90 years old, fighting for civil rights, women's rights, and most of all, a single-payer health care system. I hope to include some of Mother's poems in this collection. She was also in Nelson's classes.
The second manuscript concerns shadows my family lived with from the 1940s on: 1) the McCarthy era witch-hunts and 2) a hovering but absent much older half-sister - Leah (1926 - 2010) - from my father's first marriage whom I didn't meet until I was an adult. Then she told me "I don't want a sister." She did, however, embrace my brother, thereby reinforcing a class-difference and betrayal dynamic, as well as a woman-hate-woman kind of sexism. My sister Dorothy (1944- 2004) and I were not in our half-sister's obituary, though our brother was. For me, this led to the devastating realization that Dot and I did not exist in a world that we carried with us (at least I did) since childhood and reinforced the fact that my brother had an extended (and internal) family that my sister and I were never invited into. This second manuscript is called My Two Dead Sisters.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre? Obviously psychoanalysis informs my work, but everyone's work is different, as it should be. There's no jello mold for writers. We all have different voices and different life experiences, which we write from - or in spite of. I entwine different writing modalities into my work, as I did with Dear Alzheimer's: A Caregiver's Diary & Poems (Cave Moon Press, 2013). Poets write in a variety of ways, entwining one genre with another. My last book, Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer's (Cave Moon Press, 2014), I thought I'd do all in Tanka form, but something inside me refuses to conform and I ended up playing with the form and taking it into a variety of directions.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
From Jew to Jew: Dear Sharon
I did not say that I was an atheist (though many respectable people are). Rather, I do not presume to know whether God exists or if the idea of God was created by human beings or if God Himself/Herself chose to inculcate that idea within us. I certainly do not presume to know what God or G-d promises to the Jewish people anymore than I know what God might promise to any other people. As far as I am concerned we of the human race are all one people and any “promise” God might make to one people I have no doubt that His or Her goodness would extend that promise to all people.
When Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were kidnapped I was devastated – as you were -- devastated that this should happen and in my family’s – your family’s - neighborhood. I felt as if those boys were my children, as much as you felt they were yours. Unlike you, I do not believe that prayer will bring those boys back to us. Good will and peace will bring them home. But Netanyahu and others seem bent on war and this is where I must clarify my words. I said “The whole world is looking for peace.” Here I was wrong. I do not believe that some like Netanyahu and Cheney, for instance, look for peace; rather, they seem to enjoy the fight. I do not.
You write: "Perhaps those Jews in the US who do not believe in G-d and his promises to the Jewish people should not try to help us so much. Those who bless Israel will be blessed.” Sharon, I am a secular Ashkenazi Jew, just as much a Jew as you are in your religiosity. My mother and your husband’s father - sister and brother - were just as Jewish in their secular thinking as you are in your religious thinking. Your late father-in-law, my Uncle Izzy, would be as appalled by what is happening between Israelis and Palestinians as my mother, Anna, was. I do not accept your telling me not to “try to help us so much.” Everyone must try, each in his or her own way. Jew and non-Jew alike.
I am not a shul-goer, though I have tried that route-- to my leftist's mother’s surprise. What I see happening in American shuls and Temples, regardless of denomination, is an attempt to find identity through the state of Israel and the Law of Return. I do not feel that I have the right to make aliyah when I am not escaping prejudice. This is certainly not to say that there is no antisemitism here; there is, and in Europe and elsewhere. But the kidnapping had to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not antisemitism; we are not in the midst of a Nazi Holocaust.
My homeland is North America. I do not feel I have the right to usurp land that I do not need out of fear that there will be another Holocaust or because God “promised” me the land. To my mind, that is an absurd notion used to maintain power, not peoplehood. Human beings wrote the Torah. You are using a religious, i.e., fictitious dictum, to gratify your needs and fantasies about what our world should look like. And it is our world, all of ours. We must negotiate on all sides to make it work for all of us. The best thing about Judaism - and it is mine whether I am religious or not - is chesed/kindness. I do not see chesed coming from you toward the Palestinians any more than I see it coming from them toward you.
You write: “Hamas terrorists have not shown even one photo of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali.” Has Israel shown photos of all the children the IDF has killed? I want Eyal, Gilad and Naftali home and well. I also do not want other children or you and the rest of my family in Israel to be so cavalier as to think you can go anywhere you want, as if there is no danger, as if you own all the land.
You may not think this letter comes with love but I assure you it does. If I did not love you, your husband and his sister - my first cousins - and the rest, I would not be so upset. I loved your husband's mother, my Aunt Ruth, all the while I knew how religious she was and what her attitudes were. Uncle Izzy loved her too, and that is why their children went to Hebrew school. It was not just because of Ruth; Uncle Izzy went along with it, just as everyone in the family did - Orthodox, leftist, secular - because we loved Ruth and still do, her memory. We also love a lot of other people and want them all to live in safety.
Sometimes people who live far from the problem can see more than those who live closest. You will not shut me out of the discussion; in fact, you have brought my Jewish voice to the fore when I did not think I had one.
Love to you and the family,
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Writing to Heal
This week I was honored to be asked to write a guest blog for alzheimer's.net, an important resource for the Alzheimer's community and I thought it important to post here as well as on the P.I. blog.
This short essay, Writing to Heal, discusses my latest book Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer's, just out from Cave Moon Press. The book launch will be at the Elliott Bay Book Co. up on Capitol Hill, Tuesday July 1, 2014 at 7 pm. The reading is free and everyone's welcome. The more the merrier! I hope you'll be able to make it.
I have a lot on my mind about what's going on in the world so I'll be using this blog for other issues as well. For now, thanks for stopping by,
Monday, July 22, 2013
"Dear Alzheimer's: A Caregiver's Diary & Poems" Publication Date, August 2013
I'm so happy to tell you that my essays and poems are finally appearing between the covers of a book, put together so beautifully by Douglass P. Johnson and Cave Moon Press. It has been my honor to work with this project in conjunction with Doug, and I hope you will join us for our launch. Champagne included (if allowed). Thanks for your support, Esther
PLEASE JOIN US
BOOK LAUNCH FOR DEAR ALZHEIMER'S
Sunday September 8, 2013
|Published by Cave Moon Press, Yakima, WA., 2013|
For more information, please visit www.estherhelfgott.com
Labels: Alzheimer's, Aphasia, caregivers, Cave Moon Press, Douglass P. Johnson, Esther Altshul Helfgott, grief, illness, mourning & loss, poetry & caregiving, poetry & grieving, poetry in everyday life, writing & illness